Whether you’re heading to Tokyo, Osaka, or somewhere else entirely different, traveling to Japan is a wonderful experience. You get to see a totally different culture compared to that you may be used to, you will be surrounded by nature that will take your breath away, and the language? Something you need to learn a few words of!
Trust us when we say that one visit to Japan will have you planning your return trip!
That being said however, traveling to Japan for the first time can be daunting. Never fear however, there are ten useful tips to bear in mind for your upcoming trip to the Land of the Rising Sun.
Learn How to Bow
When greeting a person, it is polite and expected that you bow. If you don’t do this, you might end up causing offence without realising it. You don’t have to do some great, royal bow, you simply need to bend forward just a little, around 15 degrees will do it. If you’re greeting someone who is older than you, you should bend forward a bit more and make sure you go from the waist. You should also do this after you have eaten a meal, because it’s a traditional way of saying ‘thank you’.
Use a Suica Card to Get Around
To save you having to carry cash, buy a Suica Card, which is basically a pre-paid card that allows you to use the subway, Metro, and trains, as well as being able to pay for your groceries at a few stores too. You just top up with cash when you’re running low, and there are many top up machines and vendors around the main towns and cities.
Avoid Using Your Phone on Public Transport
This might sound ridiculous, but public transport in Japan is a quiet affair, and it’s not unusual to see people sleeping or keeping themselves to themselves. You should also avoid striking up conversation whilst on a bus, train, or other mode of transport too.
Keep to The Left
Drive and walk on the left hand side; that means roads, escalators, stairs, and walkways. Big cities in Japan are very busy, especially Tokyo, and this is the only way to make sure that people keep moving and going in the right direction without stress! Yu will experience the wrath of others if you attempt to walk on the right
Be Money Savvy
It is always best to carry cash on you, as many shops and restaurants don’t accept credit cards, and many ATM machines won’t let you use a foreign cash card. You can either change your cash at the airport and budget, or you can change as you go, but bear in mind that taking cash from your account in Japan may be a difficult one.
Avoid Habits That Are Considered Rude
We mentioned about bowing, but there are other habits which could cause offence if you aren’t aware of it. For instance, blowing your nose in public is considered the height of bad manners, so instead you need to learn how to sniffle very quietly into a tissue, or save it until you’re in your hotel room! You also need to avoid pointing at anything. If you are going into someone’s home, always remember to remove your shoes and wear the house slippers you are given.
Don’t Try to Tip Anyone
Whilst you might think that your waiter deserves a tip for the great service you received, it is considered rather rude to attempt to do so. There isn’t a tipping culture in Japan at all, so instead a very hearty ‘thank you’ and a bow will be enough to assure your waiter that they did a great job.
Learn How to Ask For The Bill
When you are ready to pay your bill at the end of your meal, you simply need to get your waiter’s attention by forming a X sign with your two forefingers. This is the Japanese sign for ‘I want to pay’!
Learn a Little of The Language
Whilst Japanese is certainly not the easiest language to learn or even speak the odd word of, and English is quite widely spoken, especially in the big cities, you should at least attempt to learn how to say ‘hello’, ‘thank you’, and ‘please if nothing else. Locals will be impressed and you will probably get a much better level of service as a result.
Remember That Public Transport Stops at Midnight
Don’t get caught out and miss the last train, Metro, or bus home, as all public transport stops at the stroke of midnight, and doesn’t resume until 5am. Taxis can be very expensive, so try and avoid this if at all possible and time your evening’s commute back to your hotel before midnight.